Descendants of Monuments II: a series of public devotional exchanges with Stephanos Stephanides

Chrystalleni Loizidou, 2022


What have I learned, really, after over a decade of study around the evolution of commemorative and heritage practices and rituals through time? What do I have to say about their role reflecting/projecting social consensus and community cohesion, especially in relation to places of conflict? Well, I now see contemporary public art interventions, community projects, and public space activism as techno-social developments contingent to the evolution of the media, and in connection to great shifts in the character of the public sphere and so, inevitably, in the nature of community itself. That is to say: great shifts in the nature and texture of human connections and in our ability to fundamentally conceive of ourselves as parts of a greater whole, whether this is national, ethnic, or of any other sort (see  my "Notes on Participation", 2016). Tamera, a Peace Research and Education Centre / Healing Biotope offers a most relevant and astonishing revelation: a community cannot survive without rituals, but  neither can a community that has no higher goal than community itself. A greater purpose is needed, a deeper well needs to be tapped. We must look to a higher and nobler purpose, if we are to meaningfully recover a commons. If we are to exit the age of separation. 

This exposition investigates ways to digitally communicate a series of human devotional exchanges in public space, between Stephanos Stephanides and Chrystalleni Loizidou.

Since 2012, Chrystalleni (b. 1983), a digital humanities and participatory art scholar interested in memory and the commons, keeps trying to find her way through the life-work of Stephanos (b. 1949) known for his Memory Fiction, poetry, and his internationally lauded documentary films of Mother Kali rituals performed by a community with a heritage of indentured labour. This experiment, its methodology emergent through an itinerant participatory art project of talking circles in public parks and squares that started taking place in 2016, contemplates the significance of memory rituals for community building and community survival, and documents the authors' process of discovering and sharing this understanding through public actions in a variety of media.


This multimedia exposition will include:

- Audiovisual material of Chrystalleni releasing an Aphrodite stone from Cyprus, to Yemanja in Guanabara Bay, Rio de Janeiro, in 2016

- AV of Stephanos in a presentation, explaining how the moment of Goddess Kali's arrival during the festival in Guyana in 1988 couldn't be technologically captured, at a Re Aphrodite participatory art event in Pafos 2017

- AV of Stephanos, in a private explanation / initiation into the function of specific talismans at the Nicosia Municipal Gardens, in 2016.

- Embedded videos of Stephanos' documentary "Kali in the Americas (2004)," a sequel to Hail Mother Kali. 

- AV documentation from a series of public devotional exchanges between Chrystalleni and Stephanos in the Nicosia Municipal Gardens in Nicosia, in 2016, part of Re Aphrodite's "la colcha"

- Documentation from "How To Chant for a Thin Place", a symposium organised in honour of Stephanos at the Nicosia Municipal Garden's Fytorio Art Centre, 2018

- Extracts of Memory Fiction written by Stephanos, in relation to his experience with Mother Kali, previously published in Chrystalleni's "Words of Transition" (artistic edited volume) and a number of academic journals. 

- Documentation from Chrystalleni's curatorial projects relating to ritual (Re Aphrodite, Kral, Eimaste)

- Bits of Correspondence, reflections and poems, contextualising the audiovisual material.

- Review of relevant literature, academic and other. 

- Conclusion, what has been learned, next steps. 


Hail Mother Kali: A Tribute to the Traditions and Healing Arts Brought to Guyana by Indentured Madrasi Labourers. 1988. Produced and directed by Stephanos Stephanides. 60 minutes, color

Words of Transition

Loizidou, C. (2017) on Nurtane Karagil. In Planites (Exhibition Catalogue, Pafos17 European Cultural Capital of Europe Cultural Program)

Loizidou, C. (2016). “Not(es) on Participation” In NeMe: Two Worlds Project, NeMe: Cyprus

Loizidou, C. (June 2016). “On the Nicosia Airport” Presented at the Troubled Contemporary Art Practices in the Middle East: Post-colonial conflicts, Pedagogies of art history, and Precarious artistic mobilization Conference (Birkbeck University of London & University of Nicosia), 3-4 June, 2016.

Loizidou, C. (January 2016) “Monumental Microhistories: Paradoxes in Cypriot commemorative art and their extensions”, Iconoclastic Conferences Seminar, NeMe, Cyprus.

Loizidou, C. (April 2015). “Augmented resistance: The digital lives of guerrilla interventions on public art and commemoration in the early 21st century.” Presented at the Worldwide Universities Network (WUN) Understanding Global Digital Cultures Conference, Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Loizidou, C. (November 2014).“‘cyprus pussy’: Culture Jamming / on Cypriot commemoration and its interventions”. Nicosia Municipal Arts Centre: Treasure Island (contemporary art exhibition). 

Loizidou, C. (2011). “A bust busted: Cypriot Hellenism and the commemoration of Archbishop Kyprianos in the 20th century” Presented at the Modern Greek Studies Association 2011 Conference.

Hadjichristos, C. & Loizidou, C. (2011) “Utopias and Monuments: In search of their descendants.” Presented at the Art and Social Justice: Media Connection conference at the Communications Department, Mass Media Institute, University of Nicosia.

Loizidou, C., & Stylianou-Lambert, T. (2011) “Tourist Photography: Performance, memory and narrative.” Presented at the International Visual Sociology Association Conference, University of British Columbia, Canada.

Loizidou, C. (2010). “On the Liberty Monument of Nicosia” In Re-envisioning Cyprus. Eds. Stylianou-Lambert T., Phillippou N., Loizos P.  University of Nicosia Press: Nicosia, pp. 89 - 101 

Stephanides, Stephanos.  “The Wind Under My Lips.” In Menelaos Pittas, Πατέρες Ημών /Our Fathers (2011). Nicosia: Ravdoskopos.

Stephanides, Stephanos. “Winds come from somewhere.” Kunapipi 33.1 (2011): 13.

Stephanides, Stephanos. “a litany in my slumber.” CounterText 1.1 (2015): 105–130.

Stephanos' second film "Kali in the Americas" (2004) has over 30,000 views on Youtube.

It documents the festival of the same community of Kali devotees as the first documentary, this time as they migrate from Guyana to Brooklyn 20 years later:. 



December 2016

Dear Stephane, 

Let's screen Hail Mother Kali at the Planites Exhibition, in Paphos, as part of the Pafos Cultural Capital of the EU programme! We can have it in Re Aphrodite's kitchen!  Here's a draft invitation:


We invite you to Re Aphrodite’s kitchen at the Shelley Residence. Our guests are: Triona Martin, 15:00 and Stephanos Stephanides, around 17:00, to talk about his film Hail mother Kali! (1988). We’ll be watching and talking about the film at the same time.

We have been talking about ideas of the feminine, the shamanic, and its Cypriot otherness with Triona, a healer and a shaman, who lives in Paphos. These conversations are helping us to understand how patterns of ritual are reinterpreted in the way groups of people on the move enact cultural, spiritual and organizational-community belonging. Stephanos’ film allows us a glimpse into the worship of Goddess Kali by indentured Indian workers in Guyana, South America. The reincarnation of the worship of the goddess by this same group of people has since then moved once again to New York, something Stephanos can talk to us more about.